Before both supporter sides declared their 36-year-long gemellaggio officially broken, Genoa and Napoli fans had a long-lasting friendship. Their twinning had a fascinating history, deep-rooted in events where football merged with historical circumstances that little had to do with sports.
In the summer of 1973, the area around Mount Vesuvius was plagued by a terrible breakout of cholera. Among its consequences, surely one of the less tragic was that no team wanted to play in Napoli for fear of being contaminated.
On September 16, Genoa were scheduled to play at the San Paolo Stadium for a Coppa Italia match. But the Grifoni refused to go and were consequently sanctioned with a 0-2 loss by forfeit. However, just a few days later, a telegram was sent to the Partenopei headquarters: Genoa invited them to play at Marassi Stadium for a friendly match, whose revenue would be devolved to Napoli as a compensation. The offer was accepted and that contributed to restore good relationships between the two clubs.
Nine years later, Genoa set foot on the San Paolo ground for their last season match, and were in desperate need of at least one point to avoid relegation. Napoli, on the other hand, had nothing more to ask to their campionato. After just three minutes, striker Massimo Briaschi beat keeper Luciano Castellini with a header from a corner kick action.
Shortly after the beginning of the second half, however, the home club had a sudden reaction and managed to turn the tables within just six minutes with goals by Antonio Criscimanni and Gaetano Musella. The numerous supporters who came down from Genoa were shocked.
But when there were only ten minutes left, Genoa’s coach Luigi Simoni sent in defender Mario Faccenda. That was a good choice, as he would be exactly the one to score the final equaliser in the 85th minute, he who was born on the island of Ischia, near Napoli…
It all happened when goalkeeper Castellini, while trying to return the ball with his hands, clumsily sent it past his own end line, gift-wrapping a corner kick to the Rossoblu. An awkward behavior that would indeed feed some suspicions. On the subsequent corner, Roberto Russo hit the ball with his head, and sent it towards Castellini’s far post, where Faccenda was ready to tap-in with an acrobatic leap.
The Rossoblu supporters on the stands could therefore start celebrating the permanence in the top division of the Grifone, together with the Neapolitans. Since that day, fans from both club have ideally continued to celebrate together, every time Genoa and Napoli met in Serie A, until the gemellaggio was called to an end in May 2019.
May 16, 1982 – Serie A 1981-82 Round 30
SCORERS: 3’ Briaschi (G), 56’ Criscimanni (N), 62’ Musella (N), 85’ Faccenda (G)
|NAPOLI: Castellini, Bruscolotti, Marino, Guidetti (68’ Iacobelli), Krol, Ferrario, Musella, Benedetti (46’ Maniero), Pellegrini, Criscimanni, Palanca (Ceriello, Amodio, Puzone) Coach: Marchesi|
|GENOA: Martina, Gorin (79’ Faccenda), Testoni, Corti, Gentile, Romano, Boito, Manfrin, Russo, Iachini, Briaschi (Favaro, Capezzuoli, Fiordisaggio, Sala) Coach: Simoni|
REFEREE: Mr. Agnolin from Bassano del Grappa
Translated by Matteo Carnevale